"The Gods Among Us Fight"
Being the first original fighting franchise in years from Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm Studios, Injustice: Gods Among Us is the chance for the highly acclaimed developer to spread their wings and try a different approach to a fighting game. The result is a title that takes the DC comics universe and puts its characters in a solid fighting engine, yet it still feels a lot like the gory alternative to Street Fighter the world has known for 20 years, for better or for worse.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is set in an alternate DC Comics universe where the Joker has destroyed Metropolis and tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane and the couple's unborn child. As a result, Superman goes one step further and kills the Joker, establishing a new world order, with Batman establishing a counter force, Marvel Civil War style. Things get further twisted over the long story mode, as Batman's forces reach into another reality where the Joker's plan failed and alternate versions of Superman's forces are brought in to help bring the tyrannical Superman's regime down.
Building on the fighting engine from the latest Mortal Kombat, Injustice: Gods Among Us takes the mechanics and builds up on them a bit more while taking things in a different direction. In other words, these changes probably won't be going in the next Mortal Kombat. Super Meter can be used for a lot of things, such as enhancing special moves, canceling a block into a special move, filling all the blocks to execute a Super Move, or even using it to break a combo and wager it to gain back some health. The control scheme uses three attacks: weak, medium, and strong, in addition to a fourth button that activates a character specific ability such as an auto-combo Catwoman builds up through chance, switching Wonder Woman's move set to sword and shield, or activating Green Lantern's Ring. These powers play out completely differently from character to character and ensure that everyone plays in a different way.
More so than any other fighting game aside from maybe Dead or Alive, stages play a role in the flow of a battle. Cinematic stage transitions are available, but Injustice: Gods Among Us takes things further by allowing the characters to further interact with the background. Some actions are universal to all characters, such as activating the thrust of a rocket ship to burn the opponent, but others are determined by their character's type: Agility or Strength. Agility characters will do things such as jump off of a dumpster to create distance, while Strength characters will grab the dumpster and throw it as a projectile. It doesn't make up for player skill, but the options available are an interesting touch in a 2D fighting game and further distance Injustice: Gods Among Us from Mortal Kombat.
Aside from the featured story mode, Injustice: Gods Among Us has a lot of single-player and multiplayer content. The traditional Arcade mode is called Battle and can be used to view individual character endings or fight under some crazy conditions, such as opponent health refilling every 30 seconds. There are also hundreds of character-specific missions and mini-games within the S.T.A.R.S. Lab mode available to play through, which have further strict conditions, such as not letting barrels hit a civilian. Multiplayer has all of the standard modes, but it feels more connected through the daily challenges that give experience points and overall stats between all players, such as TVs broken in the Arkham Asylum stage.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is fun, it has depth and is definitely different from what we usually find in fighting games, but there are some things that could have been done to make the game both accessible for casual and hardcore audiences. Since characters play so differently from one another, I would have appreciated a move trial and the same vein of the tutorial that pops up when playing for the first time. I really felt no motivation to go through training mode, and some character's powers, like The Joker's, are really technical. The game also attempts to accommodate Street Fighter players and has the option to switch controls to the Street fighter circular motions. However, the motions added when switching to this style make some of the moves really awkward to perform.
Injustice: Gods Among Us is a unique title that feels pretty much like a hybrid of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. The resulting title is something that will feel familiar to everyone, but it still has its own memorable feel. While there are some things that can definitely be improved to make the game more accessible, the package here has something for everyone, from casual players who only play single-player modes, to hardcore fighting game fans who enjoy the multiplayer.
GameDynamo's Score for Injustice: Gods Among Us (X360)
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